Yuji Hiratsuka sees Japan as a land of contrasts. On the surface it looks rather westernized with McDonald and Coca Cola. But underneath the facade traditional Japanese culture and values remained unchanged. His graphic work is a witty and original synthesis of old Japanese ukiyo-e tradition and modern Western elements.
Japanese gardens are cultivated high atop thirty story Western skyscrapers, or people dine on McDonald’s hamburgers while watching Sumo wrestling. In my work I explore this chaotic coexistence.
“There are many and varied points of view in modern Japan. Some survive from historic periods of significant aesthetic and philosophical development. Two periods in particular contribute to what is known as traditional Japanese art.”
“During the first, in the middle of the 16th century, the Shogun lords closed Japan to all foreign interactions and evolved an art independent of Chinese models. The most important influence was the simplicity born in the spirit of the Zen sect. Art based on Zen was an art of suggestion rather than expression; it emphasized the importance of empty spaces and simple forms.”
“The second period is the Edo era of the 17th century in which the Ukiyo-e school developed a popular art form, largely prints and reproductions, inexpensively designed for common people. Ukiyo-e art was decorative and brightly colored and often featured poster-like caricatures of national personalities (Yakusha-e).”
“In my work I draw from the ancient and the contemporary to express the mismatched combinations and hodgepodge which is Japanese daily life. The Zen aspect can be seen in my portraits. In this case, I always leave the face blank or flat and profile very simple.”
“I do not draw eyes or noses on my portraits. The human face is always changing; the face at work is different from the face that enjoys the love. Aging changes the faces also. I want my prints to express this change. The portraits are left ambiguous so that the viewer can add his/her interpretation. This is the aspect of suggestion rather than expression. Also, I am interested in the humorous and colorful aspects of Ukiyo-e poster art.”
“In my portraits I want to incorporate an element of wit through exaggeration and distortion. For emphasis, I fill in small areas with bright, whimsical colors. To express contemporary influences I use the figure dressed in Western style. My primary source of subject matter is photographs, frequently black and white, which I tear from books, magazines and newspapers. These materials are kept in my studio or in my bag, and whenever I am ready to begin a drawing for the print, I rummage through the wrinkled images.”
“There are small transitions in my work from time to time, and my interest is always based on unpredictable texture that is printed from the etched surface of the copper plate. My prints explore the complex relationship of paper, ink and etched plates to describe my thought, as well as the relationship which occurs between figures and space to express other human experiences. Always I try to investigate the maximum potential available to me as a printmaker.”
Yuji Hiratsuka was born in Osaka, Japan. In 1973 until 1978 he studied at Tokyo Gakugei University, Koganei-shi, Tokyo, Japan. In 1978 he graduated with a BS (Batchelor of Science) in Art Education.
In 1985 the young artist, then 33 years old, decided to take a plane in Eastern direction, and moved to the United States. Hiratsuka has not been the first one to make this step. Many Japanese artists of the 20th century went to the United States – some for studies, others for teaching. Some remained only one or two years in the U.S.A. and others forever.
Yuji Hiratsuka has stayed until now in his new homeland. He first extended and intensified his studies. From 1985 until 1987 he made his MA (Master of Arts) in printmaking at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM. And from 1987 until 1990 he studied at Indiana University, Bloomington, and graduated with an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in printmaking.
In 1987 Hiratsuka began to work as an art instructor. Since 1992 he is an Associate Professor at the Department of Art, Oregon State University in Corvallis.
Technique: Chine Collé with Etching
The artist uses a mixed media combination of Chine Collé with etching. Thisis a time-consuming printing process that requires a lot of skill and experience.
“My personal technique using Chine Collé with traditional and innovative etching is the following:
With continuous alterations to a copper plate I print a sequence of black, yellow, red and blue, passing the same plate through the press for each design and color change.
To start with; the first tones to the plate are given with line etching, drypoint, aquatint, softground, photocopy transfer or roulette. I pull my first color. With these first impressions, I work back into the plate with a scraper, burnisher and emery paper to enhance the lights and accent the motif. I then go on to the second, third and fourth colors.
Finally, the print is completed from the back with a relief process of woodcut or linocut to intensify shapes and/or colors.
I print on the paper which best suits my work; this is a thin Japanese paper known as Toyama Kozo (Japanese Mulberry). As in the French use of Chine Colle I apply glue to the back of the Kozo print and pass it through the press, with a heavier rag paper (BFK Rives or Somerset, etc.) beneath. What the viewer sees; is my four color intaglio print saturated with subtle tones that come through the back of a Toyama Kozo paper which is set deep into a rag paper.”
website: http://www.hockneypictures.com – NB strict copyright so videos only are shown here
Barringer, T., Devaney, E., Drabble, M., Gayford, M., Livingstone, M. & Salomon, X. F. 2012. David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, London, Royal Academy of the Arts.
Hudson, T. 2004. Hockney’s Pictures, Thames & Hudson.
Stevens, C. & Wilson, A. (eds.) 2017. David Hockney, London: Tate Enterprises.
Hockney is important for many aspects of my illustration work:
- interest in perspective and bending the rules
- exploration of colour
- use of photography, video and collage
- use of iPad and other digital media
Use of perspective
Hockney is particularly interested in the process of seeing. This includes his examination of use of one-point perspective by ‘old masters’, and particularly the more isometric perspective used in Chinese scroll art.
Use of colour
Hockney has often experimented in his paintings with brilliant and vibrant colour combinations as in exhibitions at the Tate Britain and Royal Academy.
Born with synesthesia, Hockney sees synesthetic colours in response to musical stimuli. This does not show up in his painting or photography artwork, but is a common underlying principle in his designs for stage sets for ballet and opera—where he bases background colours and lighting on the colours he sees while listening to the piece’s music.
The “joiners” : photocollages
Photographs do not see space. We see space. Without vanishing points
In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photo collages, which he called “joiners”, first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially-processed color prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. An early photomontage was of his mother. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney’s major aims—discussing the way human vision works. Some pieces are landscapes, such as Pearblossom Highway #2, others portraits, such as Kasmin 1982, and My Mother, Bolton Abbey, 1982.
Creation of the “joiners” occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses. He did not like these photographs because they looked somewhat distorted. While working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles, he took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. On looking at the final composition, he realized it created a narrative, as if the viewer moved through the room. He began to work more with photography after this discovery and stopped painting for a while to exclusively pursue this new technique. Frustrated with the limitations of photography and its ‘one eyed’ approach, however, he returned to painting.
In December 1985, Hockney used the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed the artist to sketch directly onto the screen. Using the program was similar to drawing on the PET film for prints, with which he had much experience. The resulting work was featured in a BBC series that profiled a number of artists.
Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone and iPad application, often sending them to his friends. His show Fleurs fraîches (Fresh flowers) was held at La Fondation Pierre Bergé in Paris. A Fresh-Flowers exhibit opened in 2011 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, featuring more than 100 of his drawings on 25 iPads and 20 iPods. In late 2011, Hockney revisited California to paint Yosemite National Park on his iPad. For the season 2012–2013 in the Vienna State Opera he designed, on his iPad, a large scale picture (176 sqm) as part of the exhibition series Safety Curtain, conceived by museum in progress.
David Hockney’s portraits in crayon, ink, water colour and paint show an amazing sensitivity in treatment and line.
In October 2006 National Portrait Gallery in London organized one of the largest ever displays of Hockney’s portraiture work, including 150 paintings, drawings, prints, sketchbooks, and photocollages from over five decades. The collection ranged from his earliest self-portraits to work he completed in 2005. Hockney assisted in displaying the works and the exhibition, which ran until January 2007, was one of the gallery’s most successful.
Danish painter, sculptor and writer. In 1962 he entered the Eksperimenterende Kunst-skole (Experimental Art School) in Copenhagen.His first important one-man exhibition abroad was at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, in 1977. He later exhibited widely at public and commercial galleries throughout Europe and the USA.
A prolific artist, Kirkeby used a range of different media. He was a member of the Fluxus group and was influenced by Pop art in the 1960s. Later he was influenced by Tachism and Abstract Expressionism. The vigorous brushwork and chromatic beauty of his, mostly untitled, paintings and the sensuous modelling of his rough black bronzes have earned him the title ‘lyric expressionist’. The paintings, which tend towards the abstract, bear veiled iconographic reference, largely to the Danish landscape and the female figure.
In contrast to the poetic and dramatic character of his paintings and black bronzes Kirkeby’s brick sculptures display an unusual clarity. They make strong reference to traditional Danish housing and are inspired by Mayan architecture, as in the house-like, symmetrical form (1973) at Ikast, Denmark. In 1981 Kirkeby completed a group of such sculptures for the County Council building in Ålborg. His concern with experiment and conceptual art led him to execute a series of works in chalk on blackboard, and he regularly published poetry, essays and travel books, as well as making television and full-length documentary films. He also produced many artist’s books, such as the ‘picture novel’ Landskaberne (‘Landscapes’; Copenhagen, 1969).
Per Kirkeby: Übermalungen, 1964–84 (exh. cat., Munich, Kstraum, 1984)
Per Kirkeby: Skulpturen und Bilder (exh. cat., Zurich, Gal. Knoedler, 1985)
Per Kirkeby: Retrospektive (exh. cat., Cologne, Mus. Ludwig, 1987)
Per Kirkeby: Pinturas, esculturas, grabados y escritos (exh. cat., Valencia, IVAM Cent. Julio Gonzalez, 1989–90)
‘Per Kirkeby’, Louisiana Revue, xxx/3 (1990) [whole issue]
JENS PETER MUNK
Line and shape
Literal lines do not exist in nature, but are the optical phenomena created when objects curve away from the viewer. Nonetheless, line-like shapes are for all intents considered line elements by the artist; for example, telephone and power cables or rigging on boats. Any such elements can be of dramatic use in the composition of the image. Additionally, less obvious lines can be created, intentionally or not, which influence the direction of the viewer’s gaze. These could be the borders of areas of differing color or contrast, or sequences of discrete elements, or the artist may exaggerate or create lines perhaps as part of his style, for this purpose. Many lines without a clear subject point suggest chaos in the image and may conflict with the mood the artist is trying to evoke.
Movement is also a source of line, and blur can also create a reaction. Subject lines by means of illusion contribute to both mood and linear perspective, giving the illusion of depth. Oblique lines convey a sense of movement and angular lines generally convey a sense of dynamism and possibly tension. Lines can also direct attention towards the main subject of picture, or contribute to organization by dividing it into compartments.
The brain often unconsciously reads near continuous lines between different elements and subjects at varying distances.
Straight lines are called linear when used in a piece of art work. Straight lines add affection and can make it look more detailed and challenging. Horizontal, vertical, and angled lines often contribute to creating different moods of a picture. The angle and the relationship to the size of the frame both work to determine the influence the line has on the image. They are also strongly influenced by tone, color, and repetition in relation to the rest of the photograph. Horizontal lines, commonly found in landscape photography, can give the impression of calm, tranquility, and space. An image filled with strong vertical lines tends to have the impression of height, and grandeur. Tightly angled convergent lines give a dynamic, lively, and active effect to the image whereas strongly angled, almost diagonal lines generally produce tension in the image. Viewpoint is very important when dealing with lines particularly in photography, because every different perspective elicits a different response to the photograph. By changing the perspective only by some degrees or some centimetres lines in images can change tremendously and a totally different feeling can be transported.
Curved lines are generally used to create a sense of flow within an image. They are also generally more aesthetically pleasing, as we associate them with soft things. Compared to straight lines, curves provide a greater dynamic influence in a picture.
In photography, curved lines can give gradated shadows when paired with soft-directional lighting, which usually results in a very harmonious line structure within the image.
A shape is defined as a two or more dimensional area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture. All objects are composed of shapes and all other ‘Elements of Design’ are shapes in some way.
Mechanical Shapes or Geometric Shapes are the shapes that can be drawn using a ruler or compass. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control or order.
Organic Shapes are freehand drawn shapes that are complex and normally found in nature. Organic shapes produce a natural feel.
In design, space is concerned with the area deep within the moment of designated design, the design will take place on. For a two-dimensional design, space concerns creating the illusion of a third dimension on a flat surface:
Overlap is the effect where objects appear to be on top of each other. This illusion makes the top element look closer to the observer. There is no way to determine the depth of the space, only the order of closeness.
Shading adds gradation marks to make an object of a two-dimensional surface seem three-dimensional.
Highlight, Transitional Light, Core of the Shadow, Reflected Light, and Cast Shadow give an object a three-dimensional look.
Linear Perspective is the concept relating to how an object seems smaller the farther away it gets.
Atmospheric Perspective is based on how air acts as a filter to change the appearance of distance objects.IN
Form may be described as any three-dimensional object. Form can be measured, from top to bottom (height), side to side (width), and from back to front (depth). Form is also defined by light and dark. It can be defined by the presence of shadows on surfaces or faces of an object. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Form may be created by the combining of two or more shapes. It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color. It can be illustrated or constructed.
The tree’s visual texture is represented here in this image.
Meaning the way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Texture can be added to attract or repel interest to an element, depending on the pleasantness of the texture.
Types of texture
Tactile texture is the actual three-dimension feel of a surface that can be touched. Painter can use impasto to build peaks and create texture.
Visual texture is the illusion of the surfaces peaks and valleys, like the tree pictured. Any texture shown in a photo is a visual texture, meaning the paper is smooth no matter how rough the image perceives it to be.
Most textures have a natural touch but still seem to repeat a motif in some way. Regularly repeating a motif will result in a texture appearing as a pattern.
Japanese dark, light. A notan painting is a small, quickly executed monochrome painting that consists of simple shapes in a number of flat values.
positive and negative space
barry john raybould:
mass notan: rough plan of disrribution of light and dark shapes. 7 or less shapes.
contour notan: detailed exploration of exact contour of light and dark shapes
limited value study: quick painting in 3,4 or 5 values.
shape simplification. Merge shapes that have similar values into larger shapes of one
THE GESTALT LAWS OF PERCEPTUAL ORGANIZATION:
- Law of Proximity. Visual elements are grouped in the mind according to how close they are to each other.
- Law of Similarity. Elements that are similar in some way, by form or content, tend to be grouped.
- Law of Closure. Elements roughly arranged together are seen to complete an outline shape. The mind seeks completeness.
- Law of Simplicity. The mind tends towards visual explanations that are simple; simple lines, curves, and shapes are preferred, as is symmetry and balance.
- Law of Common Fate. Grouped elements are assumed to move together and behave as one.
- Law of Good Continuation. Similar to the above, this states that the mind tends to continue shapes and lines beyond their ending points .
- Law of Segregation. In order for a figure to be perceived, it must stand out from its background. Figure-ground images exploit the uncertainty of deciding which is the figure and which is the background, for creative interest.
‘Grouping plays a large part in Gestalt thinking, and this is known as “chunking.”
GESTALT PRINCIPLES INCLUDE:
- Emergence. Parts of an image that do not contain sufficient information to explain them suddenly pop out as a result of looking long enough and finally grasping the sense .
- Reification. The mind fills in a shape or area due to inadequate visual input. This includes closure (above).
- Multistability. ln some instances, when there are insufficient depth clues, objects can be seen to invert spontaneously. This has been explolted more in art (M. C. Escher, Salvador Dali) than in photography.
- Invariance. Objects can be recognized regardless of orientation, rotation, aspect, scale, or other factors.
Michael Freeman The Photographer’s Eye p38
Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) was an English painter and printmaker. He painted mostly everyday interiors and still life objects using geometric lines and/or thick black outlines and flat colour. Some are paintings or screenprints focus on evocative light and shape, experimenting with the effects of different combinations of, often vibrant, colours. Other works mix photorealism and flat images giving a haunting sense of fleeting moments, and a yearning for escape.
Caulfield’s extremely subtle art depends greatly on visual metaphor, on implication and absence, on visual clues that hint at things that are not overtly expressed, and which must be completed in the mind of the spectator…Giving solid visual form to intangible and ephemeral sensory experiences, and to equally slippery emotions’
Livingstone 2005 p9
I was first introduced to his work in 2013 through the simultaneous exhibitions of Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume at Tate Britain, using his work as inspiration for multiplate linocuts for OCA Printmaking 1. His use of flat colour and line – playing with both colour effects and perspective as well as combinations of media to produce emotional effects are an area I explore in some of my illustrations. Including:
Selection of paintings to music.
Some paintings are very pared down – reaction against abstract expressionism. Often different modes of expression: realism and linear abstraction. Understands use of light. Turns the everyday into the intriguing. Rethinks structure of interiors within painting.
Discussion of ‘After Lunch’ and the poignancy of the contrast between the fantasy painting and the linear plain waiter and the detail of the chink of light with the chain going down to the kitchen. ‘Endless Loss’.
From the Tate exhibition. Contrasts Gary Hume and Patrick Caulfield. They both use flat colour and unreal perspective. Patrick Caulfield is associated with Pop Art. Sense of ‘fragility of the moment’ and ‘fleeting moment’ and escapism.
Overview of life and art
Livingstone, M. (2005). Patrick Caulfield, London, Lund Humphries.
Patrick Caulfield was born in west London.
1950s: he began his studies in 1956 at Chelsea School of Art, London
1960s: he continued at the Royal College of Art (1960–63), one year below the students identified as originators of Pop art and fellow students included David Hockney. Through his participation in the defining The New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1964, he became associated with Pop Art. However he resisted this label throughout his career, instead preferring to see himself as a ‘formal artist’ and an inheritor of painting traditions from Modern Masters such as Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger who influenced his composition and choice of subject matter.
In the early 1960s Caulfield’s painting was characterised by flat images of objects paired with angular black outlines or isolated against unmodulated areas of colour. He deliberately chose subjects that seemed hackneyed or ambiguous in time. See for example: Portrait of Juan Gris 1963 (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester); Still Life with Dagger 1963 (Tate); Pottery 1969 (Tate); Bend in the Road 1967 (Collection of the Museé national d’historie et d’art, Luxembourg)
1970s : he began to create highly complex paintings that play with definitions of reality and artifice, combining different artistic styles including trompe l’oeil. His subject matter shifted to topics that directly engaged with the contemporary social landscape and the representation of modern life. See for example: After Lunch 1975 (Tate) features a photorealist image of the Château de Chillon hanging in a restaurant interior that is depicted in simple black outlines against a flat, two-toned background. Tandoori Restaurant 1971 (WAVE Wolverhampton Art Gallery)
1980s: Caulfield began to insert Photorealistic elements into his characteristic pared down paintings, creating a vivid sense of place within abstract elements. See for example: Interior with a Picture 1985–6 (Tate), Bishops 2004 (Private collection, London), Braque Curtain 2005 (Tate)
Major exhibitions during his lifetime included retrospectives at Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and Tate (both 1981), Serpentine (1992–3) and Hayward Gallery (1999). In 1993 he was elected a Royal Academician. In 2013 there were simultaneous exhibitions of Caulfield and Gary Hume at Tate Britain. (where I was first introduced to his work)
View over a Flat Landscape: Jan Josefsz van Goyen (oil on panel 1642) a moody painting of a completely flat landscape with cows, where the top two thirds of the frame is occupied by the grey clouds, but with subtle sunlight breaking through on the horizon line in the far distance.
Landscape with a River Bank : Jan Josefsz van Goyen (oil on panel 1635-1640) a very muted colour painting of the far back of the river with a church – very much like the view over the Cam to Fen Ditton
Flat Landscape with a Broad River: Philips Koninck (oil on canvas c 1648) again very muted colours, dominated by the sky. The sky is now looming overhead with nearer clouds larger and again subtle lighting on the horizon and the river.
Polder Landscape: Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël (watercolour 1828-1903) simple monochrome image of two barges. Here the focus is on the water and some birds in the foreground. The horizon to a featureless sky is in the middle of the frame.
Landscape: Adriaen van Ostade (oil on panel 1639) a summer image with a very dramatic stormy sky with bright patches of light on the ground from breaks in the cloud. The horizon line is again low just above the bottom third of the frame.
Snowy Landscape with fences in the foreground: Charles Donker etching 1988 a misty simple monochrome print with large featureless sky, a row of skeletal trees of different types silhouetted against it and fences lines through the snow.
!!Post in process needs editing
Text edited and elaborated from Wikipedia ‘Landscape Art’. For ongoing update.
The project went through a number of stages – leading to far more possibilities and ideas than I have been able to explore yet. Particularly in relation to what I am aiming to achieve in landscape prints: the ‘picturesque’, ‘beauty and sublime’ or a social and political critique of attitudes to the environment and peri-urban sprawl with all its litter and badly cut trees. for some of my thoughts on this in photography see my blog for OCA Landscape Photography course)
Landscape painting, also known as landscape art, is the depiction in art of landscapes, natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still form an important part of the work. Sky is almost always included in the view, and weather is often an element of the composition. Detailed landscapes as a distinct subject are not found in all artistic traditions, and develop when there is already a sophisticated tradition of representing other subjects. The two main traditions spring from Western painting and Chinese art, going back well over a thousand years in both cases. The recognition of a spiritual element in landscape art is present form its beginnings in East Asian art, drawing on Daoism and other philosophical traditions, but in the West only becomes explicit with Romanticism.
The word “landscape” entered the modern English language as landskip (variously spelt), an anglicization of the Dutch landschap, around the start of the 17th century, purely as a term for works of art, with its first use as a word for a painting in 1598. Within a few decades it was used to describe vistas in poetry, and eventually as a term for real views. However the cognate term landscaef or landskipe for a cleared patch of land had existed in Old English, though it is not recorded from Middle English. Landscape views in art may be entirely imaginary, or copied from reality with varying degrees of accuracy. If the primary purpose of a picture is to depict an actual, specific place, especially including buildings prominently, it is called a topographical view. Such views, extremely common as prints in the West, are often seen as inferior to fine art landscapes, although the distinction is not always meaningful; similar prejudices existed in Chinese art, where literati painting usually depicted imaginary views, while professional court artists painted real views, often including palaces and cities.
The earliest forms of art around the world depict little that could really be called landscape, although ground-lines and sometimes indications of mountains, trees or other natural features are included. The earliest “pure landscapes” with no human figures are frescos from Minoan Greece of around 1500 BCE. Hunting scenes, especially those set in the enclosed vista of the reed beds of the Nile Delta from Ancient Egypt, can give a strong sense of place, but the emphasis is on individual plant forms and human and animal figures rather than the overall landscape setting. For a coherent depiction of a whole landscape, some rough system of perspective, or scaling for distance, is needed, and this seems from literary evidence to have first been developed in Ancient Greece in the Hellenistic period, although no large-scale examples survive. More ancient Roman landscapes survive, from the 1st century BCE onwards, especially frescos of landscapes decorating rooms that have been preserved at archaeological sites of Pompeii, Herculaneum and elsewhere, and mosaics.
The Chinese ink painting tradition of shan shui (“mountain-water”), or “pure” landscape, in which the only sign of human life is usually a sage, or a glimpse of his hut, uses sophisticated landscape backgrounds to figure subjects, and landscape art of this period retains a classic and much-imitated status within the Chinese tradition.
Both the Roman and Chinese traditions typically show grand panoramas of imaginary landscapes, generally backed with a range of spectacular mountains – in China often with waterfalls and in Rome often including sea, lakes or rivers. These were frequently used, as in the example illustrated, to bridge the gap between a foreground scene with figures and a distant panoramic vista, a persistent problem for landscape artists. The Chinese style generally showed only a distant view, or used dead ground or mist to avoid that difficulty.
A major contrast between landscape painting in the West and East Asia has been that while in the West until the 19th century it occupied a low position in the accepted hierarchy of genres, in East Asia the classic Chinese mountain-water ink painting was traditionally the most prestigious form of visual art. Aesthetic theories in both regions gave the highest status to the works seen to require the most imagination from the artist. In the West this was history painting, but in East Asia it was the imaginary landscape, where famous practitioners were, at least in theory, amateur literati, including several Emperors of both China and Japan. They were often also poets whose lines and images illustrated each other. However in the West, history painting came to require an extensive landscape background where appropriate, so the theory did not entirely work against the development of landscape painting – for several centuries landscapes were regularly promoted to the status of history painting by the addition of small figures to make a narrative scene, typically religious or mythological.
In early Western medieval art interest in landscape disappears almost entirely, kept alive only in copies of Late Antique works such as the Utrecht Psalter; the last reworking of this source, in an early Gothic version, reduces the previously extensive landscapes to a few trees filling gaps in the composition, with no sense of overall space. A revival in interest in nature initially mainly manifested itself in depictions of small gardens such as the Hortus Conclusus or those in millefleur tapestries. The frescos of figures at work or play in front of a background of dense trees in the Palace of the Popes, Avignon are probably a unique survival of what was a common subject. Several frescos of gardens have survived from Roman houses like the Villa of Livia.
During the 14th century Giotto di Bondone and his followers began to acknowledge nature in their work, increasingly introducing elements of the landscape as the background setting for the action of the figures in their paintings. Early in the 15th century, landscape painting was established as a genre in Europe, as a setting for human activity, often expressed in a religious subject, such as the themes of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, the Journey of the Magi, or Saint Jerome in the Desert. Luxury illuminated manuscripts were very important in the early development of landscape, especially series of the Labours of the Months such as those in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, which conventionally showed small genre figures in increasingly large landscape settings. A particular advance is shown in the less well-knownTurin-Milan Hours, now largely destroyed by fire, whose developments were reflected in Early Netherlandish painting for the rest of the century. The artist known as “Hand G”, probably one of the Van Eyck brothers, was especially successful in reproducing effects of light and in a natural-seeming progression from the foreground to the distant view. This was something other artists were to find difficult for a century or more, often solving the problem by showing a landscape background from over the top of a parapet or window-sill, as if from a considerable height.
Landscape backgrounds for various types of painting became increasingly prominent and skilful during the century. The period around the end of the 15th century saw pure landscape drawings and watercolours from Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Fra Bartolomeo and others, but pure landscape subjects in painting and printmaking, still small, were first produced by Albrecht Altdorfer and others of the German Danube School in the early 16th century. At the same time Joachim Patinir in the Netherlands developed the “world landscape” a style of panoramic landscape with small figures and using a high aerial viewpoint, that remained influential for a century, being used and perfected by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. The Italian development of a thorough system of graphical perspective was now known all over Europe, which allowed large and complex views to be painted very effectively.
Landscapes were idealized, mostly reflecting a pastoral ideal drawn from classical poetry which was first fully expressed by Giorgione and the young Titian, and remained associated above all with hilly wooded Italian landscape, which was depicted by artists from Northern Europe who had never visited Italy, just as plain-dwelling literati in China and Japan painted vertiginous mountains. Though often young artists were encouraged to visit Italy to experience Italian light, many Northern European artists could make their living selling Italianate landscapes without ever bothering to make the trip. Indeed, certain styles were so popular that they became formulas that could be copied again and again.
The publication in Antwerp in 1559 and 1561 of two series of a total of 48 prints (the Small Landscapes) after drawings by an anonymous artist referred to as the Master of the Small Landscapes signalled a shift away from the imaginary, distant landscapes with religious content of the world landscape towards close-up renderings at eye-level of identifiable country estates and villages populated with figures engaged in daily activities. By abandoning the panoramic viewpoint of the world landscape and focusing on the humble, rural and even topographical, the Small Landscapes set the stage for Netherlandish landscape painting in the 17th century. After the publication of the Small Landscapes, landscape artists in the Low Countries either continued with the world landscape or followed the new mode presented by the Small Landscapes.
17th and 18th centuries
The popularity of exotic landscape scenes can be seen in the success of the painter Frans Post, who spent the rest of his life painting Brazilian landscapes after a trip there in 1636-1644. Other painters who never crossed the Alps could make money selling Rhineland landscapes, and still others for constructing fantasy scenes for a particular commission such as Cornelis de Man‘s view of Smeerenburg in 1639.
Compositional formulae using elements like the repoussoir were evolved which remain influential in modern photography and painting, notably by Poussin and Claude Lorrain, both French artists living in 17th century Rome and painting largely classical subject-matter, or Biblical scenes set in the same landscapes. Unlike their Dutch contemporaries, Italian and French landscape artists still most often wanted to keep their classification within the hierarchy of genres as history painting by including small figures to represent a scene from classical mythology or the Bible. Salvator Rosa gave picturesque excitement to his landscapes by showing wilder Southern Italian country, often populated by banditi.
Dutch Golden Age painting of the 17th century saw the dramatic growth of landscape painting, in which many artists specialized, and the development of extremely subtle realist techniques for depicting light and weather. There are different styles and periods, and sub-genres of marine and animal painting, as well as a distinct style of Italianate landscape. Most Dutch landscapes were relatively small, but landscapes in Flemish Baroque painting, still usually peopled, were often very large, above all in the series of works that Peter Paul Rubens painted for his own houses. Landscape prints were also popular, with those of Rembrandt and the experimental works of Hercules Seghers usually considered the finest.
The Dutch tended to make smaller paintings for smaller houses. Some Dutch landscape specialties named in period inventories include the Batalje, or battle-scene; theManeschijntje, or moonlight scene; the Bosjes, or woodland scene; the Boederijtje, or farm scene,and the Dorpje or village scene.Though not named at the time as a specific genre, the popularity of Roman ruins inspired many Dutch landscape painters of the period to paint the ruins of their own region, such as monasteries and churches ruined after the Beeldenstorm.The popularity of landscapes in the Netherlands was in part a reflection of the virtual disappearance of religious painting in a Calvinist society, and the decline of religious painting in the 18th and 19th centuries all over Europe combined with Romanticism to give landscapes a much greater and more prestigious place in 19th-century art than they had assumed before.
In England, landscapes had initially been mostly backgrounds to portraits, typically suggesting the parks or estates of a landowner, though mostly painted in London by an artist who had never visited his sitter’s rolling acres; the English tradition was founded by Anthony van Dyck and other mostly Flemish artists working in England. In the 18th century,watercolour painting, mostly of landscapes, became an English speciality, with both a buoyant market for professional works, and a large number of amateur painters, many following the popular systems found in the books of Alexander Cozens and others. By the beginning of the 19th century the English artists with the highest modern reputations were mostly dedicated landscapists, showing the wide range of Romantic interpretations of the English landscape found in the works of John Constable, J.M.W. Turner and Samuel Palmer. However all these had difficulty establishing themselves in the contemporary art market, which still preferred history paintings and portraits.
In Europe, as John Ruskin said, and Sir Kenneth Clark confirmed, landscape painting was the “chief artistic creation of the nineteenth century”, and “the dominant art”, with the result that in the following period people were “apt to assume that the appreciation of natural beauty and the painting of landscape is a normal and enduring part of our spiritual activity” In Clark’s analysis, underlying European ways to convert the complexity of landscape to an idea were four fundamental approaches: the acceptance of descriptive symbols, a curiosity about the facts of nature, the creation of fantasy to allay deep-rooted fears of nature, and the belief in a Golden Age of harmony and order, which might be retrieved.
The 18th century was also a great age for the topographical print, depicting more or less accurately a real view in a way that landscape painting rarely did. Initially these were mostly centred on a building, but over the course of the century, with the growth of the Romantic movement pure landscapes became more common. The topographical print, often intended to be framed and hung on a wall, remained a very popular medium into the 20th century, but was often classed as a lower form of art than an imagined landscape. Landscapes in watercolour became a distinct specialism, above all in England, where a particular tradition of talented artists who only, or almost entirely, painted landscape watercolours developed, as it did not in other countries. The paintings sold relatively cheaply, but were far quicker to produce. These professionals could augment their income by training the “armies of amateurs” who also pained.
19th and 20th centuries
The Romantic movement intensified the existing interest in landscape art, and remote and wild landscapes, which had been one recurring element in earlier landscape art, now became more prominent. The German Caspar David Friedrich had a distinctive style, influenced by his Danish training, where a distinct national style, drawing on the Dutch 17th-century example, had developed. To this he added a quasi-mystical Romanticism. French painters were slower to develop landscape painting, but from about the 1830sJean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and other painters in the Barbizon School established a French landscape tradition that would become the most influential in Europe for a century, with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists for the first time making landscape painting the main source of general stylistic innovation across all types of painting.
The nationalism of the new United Provinces had been a factor in the popularity of Dutch 17th-century landscape painting and in the 19th century, as other nations attempted to develop distinctive national schools of painting, the attempt to express the special nature of the landscape of the homeland became a general tendency. In Russia, as in America, the gigantic size of paintings was itself a nationalist statement.
In the United States, the Hudson River School, prominent in the middle to late 19th century, is probably the best-known native development in landscape art. These painters created works of mammoth scale that attempted to capture the epic scope of the landscapes that inspired them. The work of Thomas Cole, the school’s generally acknowledged founder, has much in common with the philosophical ideals of European landscape paintings — a kind of secular faith in the spiritual benefits to be gained from the contemplation of natural beauty. Some of the later Hudson River School artists, such as Albert Bierstadt, created less comforting works that placed a greater emphasis (with a great deal of Romantic exaggeration) on the raw, even terrifying power of nature. The best examples of Canadian landscape art can be found in the works of the Group of Seven, prominent in the 1920s.
Although certainly less dominant in the period after World War I, many significant artists still painted landscapes in the wide variety of styles exemplified by Neil Welliver, Alex Katz, Milton Avery, Peter Doig, Andrew Wyeth, David Hockney and Sidney Nolan.
To be updated and continued
See discussion on my Landscape Photography blog: http://photography.zemniimages.info/portfolio/1-3-establishing-conventions/
Using search engines and any other resources, find at least 12 examples of 18 and 19th century landscape paintings. List all of the commonalities. Try to find out why the examples were painted (eg private or public commission.) your research should provide some examples of the visual language and conventions known to the early photographers.
Notes here to be updated from visits to exhibitions at:
Tate Britain: Late Turner and Turner galleries
National Gallery : Pedar Balke
National gallery and elsewhere Maggie Hambling
Tate Britain: John Martin
http://www.jean-baptiste-camille-corot.org Creative Commons website
Horizon lines, framing devices, division between foreground, middle ground and background planes. Aerial perspective.
Storm at Sea, 1865
Diagonal lines of rain point to solid horizontal horizon.
Souvenir du Pont de Mantes
Framing device and aerial perspective.
http://www.john-constable.org Creative Commons website
Hampstead heath with a rainbow
- frequent use of the Golden ratio to position horizons at one or two thirds levels in paintings
- uses a lanes, roads and other devices to lead the eye into the picture
- interest in plays of light and naturalistic colour
- linear as well as aerial perspective
- use of triangles and implied triangles on foreground objects like carts, boats etc.
- later starts to experiment with dynamic and impasto brushstrokes, as precursor to Impressionists
http://www.william-turner.org creative commons website
Turner tends to have his horizons lower, or non-existent. And makes lots of use of dramatic swirls for storms, and brilliant sunsets. But still positions vertical elements and objects around the thirds line.
The Fighting ‘Téméraire’ tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, National Gallery
Snow Storm, Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps 1812, Tate Gallery
Snow Storm- Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth c. 1842
Caspar David Friedrich
http://www.caspardavidfriedrich.org creative commons website
distinctive style, influenced by his Danish training, where a distinct national style, drawing on the Dutch 17th-century example, had developed. To this he added a quasi-mystical Romanticism.
The Wanderer above the Mists 1817-18
Strong contrast in colours and between foreground and background with dramatic silhouette. Quasi symmetrical balance between right and left side of the image. Diagonals leading to the centre figure.
Trees in the Moonlight
Use of diagonals and muted colours.
Two Men by the Sea at Moonrise
Use of strong horizontals with central horizon line. Silhouettes against an oval pool of light. ‘High Dynamic Range’.
from Tate.org search
James Abbott McNeill Whistler
mists, high horizons. Strong horizontals and verticals.
Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Cremorne Lights 1872
Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge c.1872-5
Then try to find examples of landscape photographs from any era that conform to these conventions.
See analysis in posts on:
Exercise 1.2 Photography in the museum or in the gallery
This image has horizon on top thirds line with leading line of rocks from, between and to vertical thirds lines. The original image though breaks with conventions on aerial perspective in that the rocks in that although there is a progression in sharpness from fore to middle to background, the equal haze of water and sky add the feeling of mystery. In a painting probably there would have been an attempt to use various devices to de-emphasise the sharpness on the rock at the front to more effectively lead the eye into the picture to the triangular rock at the middleground and back again. In the photograph this is achieved to some extent by the changes in tonal contrast from relatively equal tones between the foreground rock and sea to the sharper contrast between the dark triangular rock and the sea. Then back to the sharp dark/white contrast lines on the foreground rock.
See posts on:
Peter Henry Emerson
Fay Godwin (reading still to be written up )
Most landscape photographs on sites like Flickr, photographs submitted to landscape photography magazines and camera club competitions also conform to:
– conventions of rule of thirds (reflected in grids in Lightroom and Photoshop),
– contrast between fore/middle/background to include near and far objects
– use of leading lines/implied lines to link the elements.
They also generally:
– blur motion on water through slow shutter speed
– increase tonal contrast in cloud and sky areas, and often enhance colours
– have a deep depth of field through small apertures – both these done through using a tripod.
– simplify the image, cloning or removing distractions in digital processing.
– simplify the image, cloning or removing distractions in digital processing.
Giorgio de Chirico (1888 – 1978) was an Italian artist and writer most famous for the eerie mood and strange artificiality of the cityscapes he painted in the 1910s. His style is characterised by haunting empty streets with multiple vanishing points, shadows and size contrasts that do not make sense. These contradictions become dreamlike/nightmarish because they conflict with the otherwise classical style – things look ‘normal’ but aren’t.
His work has influenced my work particularly:
and some of my town images in Aldeburgh in
Holzhey, M. Georgio De Chirico: The Modern Myth, Koln, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo, Taschen.
Design elements may be explored in their own right, but are generally considered in terms of relationships between one or more element. The following are just some things to think about, taken from a range of sources and experience/thoughts on previous courses in art and photography.
- Michael Freeman:The Photographer’s Eye
- Alan Pipes: Foundations of Art and Design
- de Sausmarez
- Ian Roberts ‘Mastering Composition’
- Theories of Paul Klee, Arthur Wesley Dow and Henry Rankin Poore
Principles of relationship
Unity/harmony:When all elements are in agreement, a design is considered unified. No individual part is viewed as more important than the whole design.
- Asymmetrical produces an informal balance that is attention attracting and dynamic.
- Balance: It is a state of equalized tension and equilibrium, which may not always be calm.
- Radial balance is arranged around a central element. The elements placed in a radial balance seem to ‘radiate’ out from a central point in a circular fashion.
- Mosaic form of balance which normally arises from many elements being put on a page. Due to the lack of hierarchy and contrast, this form of balance can look noisy but sometimes quiet.
Hierarchy: A good design contains elements that lead the reader through each element in order of its significance. The type and images should be expressed starting from most important to the least important.
Scale/proportion: Using the relative size of elements against each other can attract attention to a focal point. When elements are designed larger than life, scale is being used to show drama.A subject can be rendered more dramatic when it fills the frame. There exists a tendency to perceive things as larger than they actually are, and filling the frame full fills this psychological mechanism. This can be used to eliminate distractions from the background.
- distant cropping, close cropping
- boundary relationships
Dominance/emphasis: Dominance is created by contrasting size, positioning, colour, style, or shape. The focal point should dominate the design with scale and contrast without sacrificing the unity of the whole.
Similarity and contrast: Planning a consistent and similar design is an important aspect of a designer’s work to make their focal point visible. Too much similarity is boring but without similarity important elements will not exist and an image without contrast is uneventful so the key is to find the balance between similarity and contrast.
Similar environment: There are several ways to develop a similar environment:
- Build a unique internal organization structure.
- Manipulate shapes of images and text to correlate together.
Perspective: sense of distance between elements.
Similarity: ability to seem repeatable with other elements.
Continuation: the sense of having a line or pattern extend.
Repetition: elements being copied or mimicked numerous times.
Rhythm: is achieved when recurring position, size, color, and use of a graphic element has a focal point interruption.
Negative space: Give the eye somewhere to rest
Color: Contrast: the value, or degree of lightness and darkness, used within the picture.
Repetition has a peculiar but generally very strong appeal, particularly when it is unfamiliar to the viewer:
- rhythm or dynamic repetition: the movement across a picture (or more properly, the movement of the eye through a picture). Rhythm can be made more dynamic by encouraging a figure or point to break the rhythm. As the eye in Western culture naturally follows a rhythmical structure from right to left to right, it is often best to place a point on the right so that the eye has time to establish the rhythm before noticing it.
- pattern or spatial repetition: essentially static and concerned with area. Ordered rows of large numbers of things produce regular patterns, but the slight variations in detail maintain interest. If the placing is irregular, the framing needs to be tight on the objects if they are to form a pattern.
Viewpoint (leading the eye): The position of the viewer can strongly influence the aesthetics of an image, even if the subject is entirely imaginary and viewed “within the mind’s eye”. Not only does it influence the elements within the picture, but it also influences the viewer’s interpretation of the subject.
Division of space
high low horizons
Rule of thirds, golden mean, rebatement of the rectangle: The objective is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest (such as the horizon) from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns and rows, ideally near the intersection of those lines. The rule of thirds is thought to be a simplification of the golden mean. The golden mean is a ratio that has been used by visual artists for centuries as an aid to composition. When two things are in the proportion of 1:1.618 (approximately 3 to 5), they are said to be in the golden mean. Dividing the parts of an image according to this proportion helps to create a pleasing, balanced composition. The intersection points on a golden mean grid appear at 3/8 in and 3/8 down/up, rather than at 1/3 in and 1/3 down/up on the grid of thirds.
Rule of odds: The “rule of odds” states that by framing the object of interest with an even number of surrounding objects, it becomes more comforting to the eye, thus creates a feeling of ease and pleasure. The “rule of odds” suggests that an odd number of subjects in an image is more interesting than an even number. An even number of subjects produces symmetries in the image, which can appear less natural for a naturalistic, informal composition. Related to the rule of odds is the observation that triangles are an aesthetically pleasing implied shape within an image.
Baselines and ground contour: foreground, middle ground and background division.ensure that you indicate the contours of the land, even if it appears flat. Use variations such as differences in soil colour, texture, vegetation, wind in grass etc. Light and shadow on land.
Overlapping forms: overlapping forms give a feeling of depth to space. If forms do not overlap there is no depth.
Tie together: If you have a distinct division of space that extends from one side of the painting to the other, tie the two divisions together by crossing the division with something in the foreground.
Images with clutter can distract from the main elements within the picture and make it difficult to identify the subject. By decreasing the extraneous content, the viewer is more likely to focus on the primary objects. Clutter can also be reduced through the use of lighting, as the brighter areas of the image tend to draw the eye, as do lines, squares and colour. In painting, the artist may use less detailed and defined brushwork towards the edges of the picture. Removing the elements to the focus of the object, taking only the needed components.Merge shapes that have similar values into larger shapes of one value.
Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the artwork, often to focal areas. Such movement can be directed along lines edges, shape and colour within the artwork.
- turbulent shape arrangements.
- variety in division of space.
- repetition with variety: pattern, rhythm
- active, passive mix. Need place for the eye to rest. But depends on overall aim of picture.
- odd number groups – maybe we like to see things in pairs, so we look for completion? Variety in threes.
Rule of space: The rule of space aims to give the illusion of movement, or which is supposed to create a contextual bubble in the viewer’s mind. This can be achieved, for instance, by leaving white space in the direction the eyes of a portrayed person are looking, or, when picturing a runner, adding white space in front of them rather than behind them to indicate movement.
Other techniques that can act together:
- There should be a centre of interest or focus in the work, to prevent it becoming a pattern in itself;
- The direction followed by the viewer’s eye should lead the viewer’s gaze around all elements in the work before leading out of the picture;
- The subject should not be facing out of the image;
- Exact bisections of the picture space should be avoided;
- Small, high contrast, elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements;
- The prominent subject should be off-centre, unless a symmetrical or formal composition is desired, and can be balanced by smaller satellite elements
the horizon line should not divide the art work in two equal parts but be positioned to emphasize either the sky or ground; showing more sky if painting is of clouds, sun rise/set, and more ground if a landscape
- Variety: no spaces between the objects should be the same. They should vary in shape and size. That creates a much more interesting image.
- staccato focal point: a small point or line that the viewer’s eye gravitates to
- focal area: a specific area of colour or value
focus may be achieved by:
- directing lines,/intersection of lines or implied lines,
- contrast in colour, saturation, temperature,
- texture, moves to areas of high density and detail.
- shape or relation of shape to boundary, value. Isolation. rule of thirds.
A composition may have primary and secondary focus of interest. Not all images have to have a focal point or focal area. Or focal area may be large. Or there can be more than one and the interest is in the relationship between the two.
the aim is to keep the interest of the viewer and keep their attention in the frame.
- types of path: C forms, S forms, I forms.
- entry point, often in bottom left . Avoid splitting painting in two.
- avoid leading eye into a corner, take it back in and around.
- avoid trapping the eye in one part of the frame.
- repeat colour spots. Linking lights, guiding darks and lights
- let the brain fill the gaps.